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Customer Relationship Management - US - January 2011

While there is some indication that the economy is improving and consumers are gaining the confidence they need to increase discretionary spending, it is equally clear that the current sales environment remains very challenging for many firms. As such, retailers, as well as manufacturers, are taking steps to deliver exceptional value while working to optimize customer satisfaction, thereby inviting greater loyalty.

In order to help companies better understand what drives customer satisfaction and how excellent service can impact the bottom line, Mintel developed this report. The analysis addresses the following questions:

  • What impact, if any, are macro-level economic conditions having on customer service in the U.S.?
  • Which companies are leaders in customer satisfaction and how have they achieved that status?
  • How are companies innovating to deliver superior service and invite customer loyalty?
  • What types of retail promotions tend to be of greatest interest to consumers and which are less enticing?
  • How are consumers using telephone and online customer support compared to last year?
  • How do perceptions of customer service and satisfaction vary between major demographic segments?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Consumer survey data
            • Abbreviations and terms
              • Abbreviations
              • Executive Summary

                  • L.L. Bean and USAA top the satisfaction list
                    • Customer service key during the entire shopping and purchase process
                      • Most report that they generally get good service
                        • Most participate in at least some loyalty programs
                          • Discounts among most effective means of driving satisfaction
                            • Free shipping and liberal return policies invite customer satisfaction
                              • Impolite reps and inaccurate information are key pain points
                              • Insights and Opportunities

                                • Drive loyalty by building brand community
                                  • Create brand ambassador programs that encourage word-of-mouth
                                  • Inspire Insights

                                      • Trend: “Cam Cam”
                                      • Market Conditions

                                        • Key points
                                          • High unemployment reflects tough market conditions
                                            • Figure 1: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-December 2010
                                          • Confidence remains low, driving frugality
                                            • Figure 2: University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, March 2007-September 2010
                                          • Median household incomes dropped in 2008 and 2009
                                            • Figure 3: Median household income in inflation-adjusted dollars, 1999-2009
                                        • Leading Innovators in Customer Relations Management

                                          • Key points
                                            • Bloomberg finds L.L. Bean top in Customer Service
                                              • Figure 4: Bloomberg businessweek top 25 customer service companies, 2010
                                            • L.L. Bean
                                              • Customer reviews
                                                • Apple Computer, Inc.
                                                  • Customer reviews
                                                    • Amazon.com
                                                      • Customer reviews
                                                        • Southwest Airlines
                                                          • Customer reviews
                                                            • Zappos
                                                              • Customer reviews
                                                                • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
                                                                  • Customer reviews
                                                                    • USAA
                                                                      • Customer reviews
                                                                      • Importance of Customer Service

                                                                        • Key points
                                                                          • Most feel good service is important all the time, especially women
                                                                            • Figure 5: Importance of customer care before, during, and after purchase, by gender, October 2010
                                                                          • Mature consumers somewhat more likely to value good service all the time
                                                                            • Figure 6: Importance of customer care before, during, and after purchase, by age, October 2010
                                                                        • Customer Service Experiences in the Last Year

                                                                          • Key points
                                                                            • Most report positive experiences at mass and department store channels
                                                                              • Figure 7: Customer service experiences at nonfood retailers, by gender, October 2010
                                                                              • Figure 8: Customer service experiences at nonfood retailers, by household income, October 2010
                                                                            • Affluents more likely to report good experiences at restaurants
                                                                              • Figure 9: Customer service experiences at grocery stores and restaurants, by household income, October 2010
                                                                            • Affluents most likely to be satisfied with service providers
                                                                              • Figure 10: Customer service experiences at service providers, by household income, October 2010
                                                                            • Parents have negative service provider experiences
                                                                              • Figure 11: Customer service experiences at service providers, by number of children in the household, October 2010
                                                                          • Participation in Customer Card Programs

                                                                            • Key points
                                                                              • Most participate in preferred customer programs
                                                                                • Figure 12: Participation in programs designed to heighten satisfaction, by gender, October 2010
                                                                                • Figure 13: Participation in programs designed to heighten satisfaction, by age, October 2010
                                                                              • Affluents somewhat more likely to participate in loyalty programs
                                                                                • Figure 14: Participation in programs designed to heighten satisfaction, by household income, October 2010
                                                                            • Interest in Discount and Other Strategies

                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                • 35-44s tend to be more interested in promotions than older consumers
                                                                                  • Gas card promos and others likely to be well-received by parents
                                                                                    • Figure 16: Interest in popular in-store promotions, by number of children in household, October 2010
                                                                                    • Figure 17: Interest in popular in-store promotions, by gender, October 2010
                                                                                • Importance of Customer Satisfaction Strategies

                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                    • Free shipping, loyalty perks, and discounts lead to satisfaction
                                                                                      • Figure 18: Importance of customer satisfaction strategies to customers, by household income, October 2010
                                                                                    • Women more likely than men to rate discount strategies important
                                                                                      • Figure 19: Importance of discount strategies, by gender, October 2010
                                                                                    • Target women and parents with loyalty programs
                                                                                      • Figure 20: Importance of loyalty strategies, by gender, October 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 21: Importance of loyalty strategies, by number of children in household, October 2010
                                                                                    • Customer reviews and liberal return policies drive satisfaction
                                                                                      • Figure 22: Importance of other customer service strategies, by age, October 2010
                                                                                  • Tolerance of Less Than Optimal Interactions

                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                      • Mature and low-income adults least tolerant of bad service
                                                                                          • Figure 23: Willingness to tolerate bad customer service, by household income, October 2010
                                                                                          • Figure 24: Willingness to tolerate bad customer service, by age, October 2010
                                                                                      • Satisfaction with Return Policies

                                                                                        • Key point
                                                                                          • Most return policies acceptable, unless they only give credit or require fee
                                                                                            • Figure 25: Satisfaction with various return policies, by age, October 2010
                                                                                        • Customer Interactions Compared to Last Year

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Most using common customer service vehicles same amount as last year
                                                                                              • Figure 26: Use of common customer service vehicles compared to last year, by age, October 2010
                                                                                            • Affluents and 25-34s most often report increased use of online interactions
                                                                                              • Figure 27: Satisfaction with various return policies, by household income, October 2010
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Satisfaction with various return policies, by age, October 2010
                                                                                          • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                              • Few differences in service perceptions between racial and ethnic groups
                                                                                                • Figure 29: Customer service experiences at nonfood retailers, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2010
                                                                                              • Asians more likely to have online account
                                                                                                • Figure 30: Participation in programs designed to heighten satisfaction, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2010
                                                                                              • Minorities somewhat more interested in good will and preopening sales
                                                                                                • Figure 31: Interest in less-common store promotions, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2010
                                                                                            • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Customer relationship management clusters, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Importance of customer care before, during, and after purchase by customer relationship management clusters, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 34: Participation in programs designed to heighten satisfaction, by customer relationship management clusters, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Importance of customer satisfaction strategies to customers, by customer relationship management clusters, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Interest in less-common store promotions, by customer relationship management clusters, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Customer relationship management clusters, by gender, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Customer relationship management clusters, by age group, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 39: Customer relationship management clusters, by household income, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Customer relationship management clusters, by race, October 2010
                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Customer relationship management clusters, by Hispanic origin, October 2010
                                                                                              • Custom Consumer Groups

                                                                                                  • Moms and married parents satisfied at retail; single men often not satisfied
                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Interest in less-common store promotions, by gender, marital status, and presence of children, October 2010
                                                                                                    • Affluents over-index on programs; less common in lower-income houses
                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Interest in less-common store promotions, by household income and race, October 2010
                                                                                                    • Moms and affluent, younger blacks using more online tools
                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Interest in less-common store promotions, by gender, presence of children, and race and household income, October 2010
                                                                                                      • Younger women and parents open to less-common, creative promotions
                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Interest in less-common store promotions, by gender and presence of children younger than 18, October 2010
                                                                                                    • Appendix: Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                        • Figure 46: Customer service experiences at nonfood retailers, by parental status, October 2010
                                                                                                        • Figure 47: Customer service experiences at grocery stores and restaurants, by age, October 2010
                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Customer service experiences at service providers, by age, October 2010
                                                                                                        • Figure 49: Importance of discount strategies, by household income, October 2010
                                                                                                        • Figure 50: Importance of other customer service strategies, by gender, October 2010
                                                                                                    • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                      Companies Covered

                                                                                                      • Apple, Inc
                                                                                                      • Food Marketing Institute
                                                                                                      • Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
                                                                                                      • Macy's, Inc.
                                                                                                      • National Retail Federation (NRF)
                                                                                                      • Recreational Equipment, Inc
                                                                                                      • Safeway Inc
                                                                                                      • Southwest Airlines Co.
                                                                                                      • Starbucks Corporation
                                                                                                      • Walmart Stores (USA)
                                                                                                      • Wegmans Food Markets, Inc
                                                                                                      • Whole Foods Market Inc

                                                                                                      Customer Relationship Management - US - January 2011

                                                                                                      £2,684.63 (Excl.Tax)